As baby teeth are gradually lost, they are replaced by the permanent adult teeth. Some people are lucky enough to have teeth that come through at the right angle, and with the correct spacing, but this isn’t always the case. All too often teeth can come through crooked, or they can be overlapping or crowded. Sometimes the teeth can actually be rotated or twisted around as they are coming into mouths that are simply too small to accommodate them. In other cases the upper and lower jaw can be different sizes, and this may mean the teeth don’t bite together correctly, or that they don’t line up properly.
Dental Problems Created by Misaligned, Crooked or Incorrectly Spaced Teeth
Misaligned teeth can lead to a number of dental problems, as crooked teeth don’t work as well as straight teeth and will not wear evenly as some teeth will come into contact while others may fail to do so at all. This can interfere with chewing, and may make it harder to digest food properly as digestion begins in the mouth. In addition crooked teeth are much harder to keep clean which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Last but not least, children and adults with crooked teeth may feel more self-conscious about their smile, and could have lower levels of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Early Orthodontic Treatment Can Sometimes Help
These are all very good reasons for considering orthodontic treatment. A pediatric dentist or orthodontist is able to identify problems as soon as a child’s adult teeth begin to erupt, around the ages of six or seven. Early intervention or interceptive orthodontic care can positively influence the way the facial bones develop so teeth are less likely to come in twisted or crooked or with unwanted spaces. In some cases this might mean the child doesn’t need orthodontic treatment in their teens.
There are various ways and orthodontist will diagnose possible problems with misaligned, crooked or badly spaced teeth. They will want to take x-rays, impressions and possibly photographs of the teeth. The x-rays give them a good idea as to where the teeth are positioned, and show teeth that have still to come through. Sometimes panoramic x-rays are taken, and these help show the relationship of the teeth to the jaws through providing the dentist with a complete view of the entire mouth. Once any potential problems have been diagnosed then a treatment plan can be devised.
In some cases it might involve a device designed to help widen the jaw so there’s more room for the teeth to erupt normally, but in other cases it may only be necessary to use a retainer. However most cases correction will require some form of brace, and treatment can take anywhere from just a few months to two or three years. Sometimes braces aren’t enough to move the teeth or shift the jaws into the correct position, and in this case a pediatric dentist may recommend head gear which is worn outside the mouth. Quite often this appliance will only need to be worn while the child is sleeping, or during evenings at home. It’s very rare for the issues to be severe enough to require surgery.